News from the Chair
Happy early Spring 2012 to everyone, adaptation issues aside. The Committee wound up 2011 finishing its 2011 Year in Review report and finalizing page proofs in early March 2012. You should have your issue in your mail box at about the time you receive this newsletter, however, future YIR publications will go the way of newsletters and be distributed electronically. Thanks to everyone for your contributions, and particularly Vice Chairs Marianne Tyrrell and Dianne Callan, who did a great job managing the process.
On March 1, 2012, the Committee cosponsored the Environmental Law Institute's webinar, "Debrief of the D.C. Circuit's Oral Arguments on EPA's GHG Rulemakings." See http://www.eli.org/Seminars/event.cfm?eventid=682 , available for download in podcast. This is a great summary of the arguments, and really gives you an "in the room" perspective. Thanks to our former SEER Chair, now ELI President John Cruden, ELI's Chandra Middleton, and all the panelists, for such a great webinar!
Be looking for the Committee panels at the ABA SEER Annual Conference on Environmental Law in Salt Lake City, March 22 -24, 2012. Specifically, Robert McKinstry will be moderating, "Letting Mother Nature Do the Work: The Role of Ecosystem Services in Satisfying Environmental Legal Requirements," with Randy Hayman, General Counsel, District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, D.C., Margaret Peloso, Vinson & Elkins, and Sarah Stevenson, Assistant City Solicitor, Philadelphia, PA. Also, see the Saturday Plenary, "Federal Air Regulation of the Energy Sector: What to Expect for Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal," moderated by Richard Alonso, Bracewell & Guiliana, with Joel Beauvais, EPA OGC, Janet Henry, AEP, and Amy Trojecki, Exelon Corp.
June 20-22, 2012 will be Rio+20, to be held in Rio de Janiero. The ABA has asked SEER to help put together an ABA delegation to Rio+20. SEER has a long history of working on sustainabilty initiatives, in addition to the fine work of this Committee, the Section has also introduced sustainability oriented resolutions before the House of Delegates, has adopted the Law Office Sustainability Initiative (with the hard work of former Committee Co-Chair, now vice-chair, Bill Blackburn), its work with the World Justice Project, the Million Trees project and more. Current SEER Chair Irma Russell has appointed Lee DeHihns, former SEER Chair, to chair the SEER delegation to Rio.
Coming up October 10-14, 2012, will be the ABA SEER Fall Meeting in Austin, Texas. This will be a Great meeting at the Hilton Austin, with a national energy policy theme. Committee panels include: "Greenhouse Gas update: EPA Rule Challenges, Cap and Trade, LCFS, Common Law Litigation and Public Trust," as well as "Developments in EPA Regulation of Electric Generation," and panels covering national energy policy and legal authority, ERCOT and the U.S. Grid, next generation environmental compliance and enforcement, the water and energy nexus, endangered species and wind farm development, shale development, pipelines and more. This conference will cover it all. And that weekend in Austin is the Austin City Limits Music Festival in beautiful Zilker Park, with more than 100 bands playing on eight stages. Last year, Steve Wonder, Coldplay, Kanye West, Randy Newman and Foster the People were among the performers. Check it out at www.ambar.org/EnvironFM .
Please join us in all this, post something on the listserv, write for our newsletter, send us ideas for program planning! Hope to see you in Austin!
Who We Are
Welcome to the homepage of the Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee (CCSDE). As Co-Chairs of the Committee, our goal is to make the Committee a premier source of information and forum for discussion on the law and policies related to climate change, sustainable development, and ecosystems. The coming year will be a very exciting one in these fields and our Committee will continue to be on the forefront of new developments. Here are some of the projects we will be working on this year:
E-mail Updates: The Committee will continue sending "Climate News" updates to our members via our committee list serve as well as periodic e-mails on sustainable development and ecosystems news items. We hope this will keep our members abreast of recent developments in the field. If you have an update you would like to share with Committee members, or if you have any comments on the e-mail updates, please e-mail our Technology Vice Chair, Justin Smith.
Programs and Public Service: The Committee will continue to develop excellent programming, including proposals for the Section Fall Meeting and Annual Conference on Environmental Law, as well as regional programming, and responsive Quick Teleconferences and webinars during the 2010-2011 ABA year. Substantively, the Committee has committed to focusing on the following areas:
Climate Change: First, the Committee has committed to focusing on "Adaptation: Making It Real." Until recently, the climate change dialogue in the U.S. has been largely focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. While mitigation is critically important, that concept hardly captures all of the challenges associated with climate change. Policymakers, regulators and practitioners must also consider evolving adaptation best practices at the local, state, national and global levels to develop effective climate change strategies. The CCSDE is committed to topically defining and establishing parameters for this broad and not well understood topic of "adaptation." The CCSDE is also committed to educating ABA members regarding how the topic impacts corporate and governmental activities at the local, state, national and global levels.
The Committee will also continue its fine work regarding monitoring and reporting on climate change legislative efforts; NEPA and climate change; the changing landscape of environmental practice in light of climate change issues; updates on state and regional climate action; the developing structure of a post-Kyoto agreement and efforts post-Copenhagen Conference of the Parties; and land use and transportation initiatives on climate change. The Committee will continue to monitor the Obama Administration's approach to climate change policy under existing statutes implemented by the Department of Energy, the EPA and other federal agencies. Our efforts include partnering with the Air Quality Committee with respect to EPA's GHG rulemaking efforts including the GHG endangerment finding, GHG emission tracking and reporting, and the underground injection well rule for carbon dioxide geologic sequestration.
We will continue to encourage law offices to participate in the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge. This Law Office Climate Challenge helps law offices reduce their greenhouse gas footprint through paper waste minimization, green power purchasing, and EPA's Energy Star program. For more information on these programs or if you have suggestions for other climate change programs and public service activities, contact our Climate Change, Programs and Public Service, or At Large Vice Chairs.
Sustainable Development: First, the Committee has committed to focusing on Sustainability's Triple Bottom Line: Beyond Environment. "Sustainability" is not only synonymous with green measures related to recycling, energy and climate change, but describes a broader concept of sustaining the long term well being of organizations through values-based management. The sustainable governance approach is framed around a strong ethical commitment to the so-called Triple Bottom Line of sustainability: economic, social and environmental responsibility. It is corporate social responsibility or environment, social and governance, as socially responsible investors put it-with financial responsibility added in. Financial responsibility (the economic portion of the Triple Bottom Line) is also considered an essential piece of the concept. Employing people is a commercial business's most important social obligation and without financial success, no other good works can be done. ABA members (and particularly ABA SEER members) need to be prepared to consider sustainability issues beyond the limited parameters of a purely environmental focus to ensure they are provided the proper tools for counseling clients on sustainability issues.
Additionally, the Committee will continue to expand the adoption of the Model Sustainable Law Policy and Guidelines, piloted in 2008 at several firms and promoted in 2009, by continuing to actively promote it with law offices during the 2010-2011 ABA year and developing best practices. If your office would like to consider adopting the Policy and Guidelines, explore the links on this web page and/or contact Saul Mikalonis or Bill Blackburn. We will also adapt the policy this year for law schools and encourage them to engage in sustainable practices. In addition, we are planning a Quick Teleconference or webinar on sustainable cities, will explore partnering with professional architecture organizations on a green building initiative, and plan to participate in a broad multi-disciplinary event on national sustainability policy. For more information on these programs or if you have suggestions for other programs and public service activities, contact our Sustainable Development, Programs and Public Service or At Large Vice Chairs.
Defining Ecosystem Services and Beginning the Conversation: Ecosystems Services are benefits people derive from nature, including tangible benefits such as fresh water and fish, and more intangible benefits such as pollination and erosion regulation. They are generally taken for granted despite their critical importance, However, as result of increasing stress on the world's ecosystems from causes such as climate change and increasing human population, ecosystem services are degrading at an alarming rate, a rate which is accelerating. Corporate review of reliance on, and impacts to, ecosystem services is developing into accepted due diligence practice along with climate change and water supply. The CCSDE is committed to educating ABA SEER members on the implications of this new area of concern as it matures into new policies and standards. Additionally, the Committee plans to hold a Quick Teleconference or other program on ecosystems payments for reducing deforestation, and cosponsor a conference on ecosystems services. We also plan to host a Quick Teleconference or brown bag on climate change impacts on ecosystems and associated adaptation mechanisms. We will also undertake projects to implement the ABA resolution on ecosystems. For more information on these programs or if you have suggestions for other programs and public service activities, contact our Ecosystems Vice Chairs, Programs and Public Service Vice Chairs or At Large Vice Chairs.
Committee Newsletter: The Committee plans to publish four quarterly newsletters during the coming year. We will collaborate with other committees on two of the newsletters. Our first issue will be a joint publication, with the ADR Committee, on climate change and environmental conflict resolution. Our other newsletters will contain articles covering all three subject areas of the Committee. The newsletter is an excellent opportunity to remain informed on legal and policy developments on climate change, sustainability, and ecosystems. If you are interested in submitting an article or have an idea you would like to discuss, please contact our Newsletter Vice Chairs.
The Year In Review: Each year, the Committee contributes a section on climate change, sustainable development, and ecosystems to the ABA SEER The Year in Review. This publication provides an excellent summary of the most significant events in the field. If you are interested in working on The Year in Review for our Committee, please contact our The Year in Review Vice Chairs.
Web Page: Please take some time to explore this page, which will take you to our latest newsletters, information about our Sustainable Law Office Policy, and links to other helpful Web sites. The Committee will continue to enhance this Web site to give our members access to the most current and emerging issues, to communicate to our members about Committee activities, and to host dialogue discussion. To contribute to the Web page or if you have ideas for improving its content, please contact our Technology Vice Chair.
Membership: The Committee is always looking for new ways to serve its existing members, ensure that both new and long-term members have an opportunity to become involved in Committee activities, and attract new members and ensure diversity in our Committee. We welcome new members and will continue our efforts to recruit interested attorneys, policy-makers, consultants and engineers to our Committee. In recognition of the importance that climate change, sustainable development, and ecosystems will have for future generations, we will continue our outreach to law students, National Association of Environmental Law Societies organizations, and young lawyers. If you have ideas about how we can best serve our current members or how to recruit new members, contact our Membership Vice Chairs.
We encourage you to become actively involved in the Committee and welcome you to enjoy the benefits of Committee membership outlined above. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions about the activities of the Committee, would like to become more involved with the projects we plan to undertake this year, or if you are interested in initiating a project not listed above.
Frank Friedman and Mary Ellen Ternes
The Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Ecosystems Committee focuses on three interrelated topics. The Committee is long established as the leading forum for those engaged in the regulatory and legal aspects of climate change. The Committee leads the Section-wide effort to raise awareness of sustainability concepts and their relevance to law and corporate governance and to integrate sustainability thinking across all environmental practice areas. The third component involves ecosystem-based approaches to environmental protection and regulation.